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Gov. JB Pritzker testifies to Congress on Illinois’ use of ARPA funds

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker stressed the importance that federal funds and COVID-19 relief have played in the state’s economic growth during his virtual appearance Tuesday in front of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“Roughly one year into the pandemic the American Rescue Plan injected a burst of resources into the national economy at a critical time,” Pritzker said in his opening statement. “With all our efforts over the last two years our investments in working families and small businesses are paying off.”

On Friday, the Gazette and Telegraph published a series of stories outlining how Whiteside, Lee and Ogle county governments have gotten more than $22 million in ARPA funds.

As part of his testimony, Pritzker said the state government received $8.1 billion and local governments including Chicago are on pace to receive $5.83 billion.

Pritzker said money initially was spent on “direct building blocks” such as small businesses, tourism support, workforce development and restoring commercial corridors. ARPA funds also went to mitigating the virus with vaccination clinics and hiring health-care workers.

During questioning from the panel, Pritzker attributed the state’s economic growth to ARPA funds. ARPA helped keep child-care businesses going and it rewarded people for staying in that line of work, he said. Both served as a foundation that allowed parents to continue working.

He also countered a question about the state’s level of unemployment. While admitting that there are “too many help wanted signs,” Pritzker said there also are people who don’t have the skills for many jobs. Pritzker then explained how ARPA grants to community colleges are being used to address workforce needs, such as in trucking and electric vehicle production.

Pritzker then echoed his earlier statement to the committee, saying that Illinois’ job growth rate outpaced neighboring states, exceeded the national average and was higher than the eight most-populous states.

“There’s no doubt in my mind the ingenuity and reliance of our people played a huge role in shaping that trajectory,” Pritzker said. “I also know that my administration has used our resources including ARPA funds to provide as much short and medium term stability as possible to fuel our progress with great results.”

Follow these links to see how each Sauk Valley county is putting its ARPA money to work. Whiteside CountyLee CountyOgle County

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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